The College Baseball World Series opens up action today at 2:00 PM eastern time on ESPN. What better way to celebrate it, then my all time tournament team. Let me preface this by stating that this team does not neccesarily include the greatest group of players or performances to ever take place in Omaha, Nebraska. Instead, this team features the players who made the most impact on me as a fan of the College World Series. The Major League Baseball careers of these players was not taken into account in the picking of this team. You will notice that team is predominantly made up of players from the 1990’s which makes perfect sense when you take into account that during my high school and college years
I attended all my classes and finished with a 3.8 GPA I watched more college baseball than I have the past few years. Feel free to comment on some players who you might have chosen…
C – Jason Varitek – Little did I know that soon enough V-Tek would become a Red Sox and I would despise him for an entire decade. But in the 1994 CWS, he was the star catcher on a Georgia Tech team that would lose in the title game. Interestingly, two future Red Sox teammates, Jay Payton and Nomar Garciaparra joined him on the Yellow Jackets that season.
1B – Will Clark – My first ever memories of the CWS are of Will Clark in 1985. Clark combined with Rafael ‘Steroids’ Palmiero and future White Sox closer Bobby Thigpen to lead Mississippi State to a great run through the bracket before losing a 6-5 heartbreaker in the semi-finals to eventual champion Miami.
If you were an 80’s baby like myself you probably remember Will Clark’s USA baseball card being a big deal.
2B – Todd Walker – As a member of those great LSU teams of the mid-90’s Todd Walker was twice named to the All Tournament team as well as the MVP of the 1993 World Series, in which the Tigers avenged a loss to Long Beach State in the semi-finals before shutting out Wichita State 8-0 in the final. Walker was a tremendous college hitter who never quite matched that production in the big leagues.
SS – Alex Cora – On the major league level, Alex Cora is a solid middle infielder with a terrific glove who can play several positions. As a college shortstop for the University of Miami, Cora was an incredible talent who was twice named to the All Tournament team. His Hurricane teams lost in the semi-finals in 1995 and the finals on a walkoff to LSU in 1996.
3B – Robin Ventura – Years before getting his brain beaten in by the immortal Nolan Ryan, Robin Ventura was a stud Third Baseman for the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. Ventura played in two College World Series’ and was on the all tournament team as a freshman in 1986. His sophmore season he batted .428 with 21 homers and 110 rbi’s.
OF – Mark Kotsay – When I first saw this guy play in college, I swore he was going to be one of the greatest players that ever lived. While Mark Kotsay has had a respectable MLB career, nothing will match the showcase performance he put on in the 1995 College World Series. He was everywhere. Defensively he turned in gem after gem and when he was up, he always seemed to come up with a huge hit, earning him MVP of Cal State Fullerton’s National Championship. He was also a member of the all tourney team the season prior.
OF – Phil Nevin – Do you remember who celebrated Phil Nevin was when he was originally drafted first overall by the Houston Astros? At the time, it was with good reason. Nevin could certainly hit a baseball. Another Cal State Fullerton star, Nevin was the MVP of the 1992 College World Series, despite the Titans 3-2 title game defeat to Pepperdine. Nevin tore the cover off the ball in that, his second CWS appearance.
OF – Pat Burrell – Surprisingly enough, Burrell has had the most MLB success of our entire CWS all star outfield. As a freshman Third Baseman for Miami in 1996, Pat ‘the Bat’ was also MVP of a losing team. His Hurricanes fell victim to the legendary Warren Morris walk off homerun in the championship game. Burrell would appear in two more CWS tournaments, but his Miami teams underachieved despite having fellow major leaguers Aubrey Huff & Jason Michaels on the roster.
DH – Brooks Kieschnick – Brooks was as big a star as their was in Texas in the early 1990’s. Not only was he a stud pitcher who helped lead the Longhorns to two CWS appearances in his three year stint, but he was also a big time hitter. He hit 43 homers and 215 rbi’s and was destined for greatness on the next level. Drafted 10th overall by the Chicago Cubs in 1993, his MLB career never materialized, due in part to injuries. But Kieschnick’s college career is now enshired in the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Shorty is creator and lead writer of Milk Was a Bad Choice…